Unique Brown County inn offers lessons in history

For more than a century, the one-room schoolhouse stood proudly on the wooded grounds along Cottonwood Road in rustic Brown County.

For decades it was empty, with no one to relive its vast history or ask questions of its past. All of those children who had walked to school in the dead of winter, fired up the pot-bellied stove for a bit of warmth and listened intently to the teacher were long gone. Only the schoolhouse remained and perhaps a few old-timers who remembered its glory days when an abundance of activity was a part of everyday life.

That all changed in July when Dennis Parman of Peaceful Valley Construction purchased the schoolhouse as a restoration project and began working to create a place where people could come to relax and enjoy the quiet of rural Brown County.

Parman has always had a passion to restore old buildings and log cabins. He estimates he has restored at least 25 in the years he has been in construction.

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When the schoolhouse became available, he knew he wanted to restore the building while preserving its history.

The old schoolhouse, now known as the Schoolhouse Inn, rests on its original site. Built in the early 1890s, the one-room building was empty from about 1955 until the early 1980s.

As Parman began working on its restoration, he saved as much of the original building as he could, taking time to remove two floors before finding the beautiful hardwood floors that were long ago forgotten. The loft has been closed in to make two separate bedrooms, both filled with antiques that best represent the period of time the schoolhouse was built. Downstairs, antiques sit in every corner, reminding the visitor that this inn has been around for a long time.

Every major part of the building has been reworked, Parman said. In some cases, windows were restored, and original woodwork was stripped and refinished. The new kitchen and bathroom provide guests with all of the conveniences of a modern-day hotel, but with the charm of the past century not far away.

Parman is pleased he was able to return the schoolhouse to a state that will last for decades. It is important to him to restore as much as possible of the old buildings that are rapidly disappearing.

The Schoolhouse Inn is nearly ready to once more to open its doors to those who seek the opportunity to spend a night or two in a quaint, comfortable and cozy setting. The pot-bellied stove may be long gone, but the gas log burns brightly to welcome all who come its way.